Correction: A Double-Edged Sword

  • Brandon Daniel-Hughes


This chapter focuses on hypothesis correction. After examining Peirce ’s first rule of reason , it argues that, since inquiry is ubiquitous (Chap.  1) , the rule has surprising implications. Since all activities are experimental, the scientific pursuit of corrective feedback has important analogues in less controlled forms of inquiry. In “vital matters,” the very feedback potential that science seeks to exploit looms as a threatening specter. Section 2.2 analyzes different forms of inquisitive engagement along a continuum of risk. Section 2.3 argues for self-control and existential risk as important variables. Considering these together yields four strategies for maximally exploiting corrective feedback while protecting communities of inquiry. Section 2.4 explores the continuum of experimental self-control and entertains the possibility of both minimally and maximally controlled ethical and religious experiments, while examining the dangers of rash experimentation in vital matters, not only to the experimenters but to the continuation of inquiry. At the heart of Peirce’s recommendation of conservative caution is a deep concern for the progressive project of sustaining a flourishing community of inquiry. Thus, it is often reasonable to defer to tradition and instinct. This conservative commendation has interesting implications for religious communities.


Feedback potential Vital matters Experimentation Self-control Risk Correction 


  1. Anderson, Douglas R. 1990. Three Appeals in Peirce’s Neglected Argument. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 26 (3): 349–362.Google Scholar
  2. Atkins, Richard Kenneth. 2016. Peirce and the Conduct of Life: Sentiment and Instinct in Ethics and Religion. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bergman, Mats. 2010. Serving Two Masters: Peirce on Pure Science, Useless Things, and Practical Applications. In Ideas in Action: Proceedings of the Applying Peirce Conference, Nordic Studies in Pragmatism 1, ed. Mats Bergman et al., 17–37. Helsinki: Nordic Pragmatism Network.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 2012. Improving Our Habits: Peirce and Meliorism. In The Normative Thought of Charles S. Peirce, ed. Cornelis de Waal and Krzysztof Piotr Skowronski, 125–148. New York: Fordham University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernstein, Richard J. 1965. Action Conduct and Self-Control. In Perspectives on Peirce: Critical Essays on Charles Sanders Peirce, ed. Richard J. Bernstein, 66–91. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brent, Joseph. 1993. Charles Sanders Peirce: A Life, 1993. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Daniel-Hughes, Brandon. 2016. Defanging Peirce’s Hopeful Monster: Community, Continuity, and the Risks and Rewards of Inquiry. American Journal of Theology & Philosophy 37 (2): 123–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Forster, Paul. 2011. Peirce and the Threat of Nominalism. Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Goldschmidt, Richard. 1933. Some Aspects of Evolution. Science 78 (2033): 539–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. ———. 1960. The Material Basis of Evolution. Paterson: Pageant Books.Google Scholar
  11. Goudge, Thomas A. 1950. The Thought of C. S. Peirce. New York: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
  12. Hookway, Christopher. 1990. Critical Common-Sensism and Rational Self-Control. Noûs 24 (3): 397–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. ———. 2002. Truth, Rationality and Pragmatism: Themes form Peirce. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hoopes, James. 1998. Community Denied: The Wrong Turn of Pragmatic Liberalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Kuhn, Thomas S. 1962. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  16. Ochs, Peter. 1998. Peirce, Pragmatism and the Logic of Scripture. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Peirce, Charles Sanders. 1931–58. In The Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, ed. Arthur W. Burks, C. Hartshorne and P. Weiss 8 vols. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. ———. 1992. In Reasoning and the Logic of Things: Cambridge Conference Lectures of 1898, ed. Kenneth Laine Ketner. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 1998. In The Essential Peirce: Selected Philosophical Writings, Volume 2 (1893–1913), ed. The Peirce Edition Project. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Reid, Thomas. 1785/2002. In Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, ed. Derek Brookes. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  21. ———. 1788/2010. In Essays on the Active Powers of Man, ed. Knud Haakonssen and James A. Harris. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Rescher, Nicholas. 1978. Peirce’s Philosophy of Science: Critical Studies in His Theory of Induction and Scientific Method. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  23. Rysiew, Patrick. 2002. Reid and Epistemic Naturalism. The Philosophical Quarterly 52 (209): 437–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sharpe, Robert. 1970. Induction, Abduction, and the Evolution of Science. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 6 (1): 17–33.Google Scholar
  25. Short, Thomas L. 2001. The Conservative Pragmatism of Charles Peirce. Modern Age 43 (4): 295–303.Google Scholar
  26. Slater, Gary. 2015. C. S. Peirce and the Nested Continua Model of Religious Interpretation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Stecker, Robert. 1987. Thomas Reid on the Moral Sense. The Monist 70 (4): 453–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stewart, Christopher W. 1994. Peirce on the Role of Authority in Science. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 30/2: 297–326.Google Scholar
  29. Trammel, Richard L. 1972. Religion, Instinct and Reason in the Thought of Charles S. Peirce. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 8 (1): 3–25.Google Scholar
  30. Vannatta, Seth. 2014. Conservatism and Pragmatism: In Law, Politics and Ethics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Westbrook, Robert B. 2005. Democratic Hope: Pragmatism and the Politics of Truth. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Wildman, Wesley. 2010. Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry: Envisioning a Future for the Philosophy of Religion. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brandon Daniel-Hughes
    • 1
  1. 1.John Abbott CollegeSainte-Anne-De-BellevueCanada

Personalised recommendations